Spared from the Flames

Have you ever had one of those moments in life when you realize there is something bigger out there controlling everything? Some-ONE bigger? I was taught this concept from a very young age, but experienced it in a personal way when I was ten-years-old. God, in His wisdom and mercy, saved my sister and me from certain death the night our family home burned to the ground. We had planned to be home that night. Thankfully, God had other plans, at least for the two of us.

That fateful night was a difficult one for my parents in more than one way. It started with a memorial service for my uncle (my dad’s brother-in-law).

In addition to attending the funeral, my parents were watching my two-year-old cousin, Darryl, so another aunt and uncle could have a date night. Mom put Darryl to sleep for the night in the living room of our tiny four-room house. His play pen was his make-shift bed for his short stay.

Mom and Dad occupied one bedroom of the house, my brother, the other. My sister and I slept in the living room on a hide-a-bed couch. That night, however, neither of us were home. So, Darryl had the living room to  himself.

Approximately an hour and a half after going to bed, my mom woke up and smelled smoke. She awakened my dad, which took some doing. He slept soundly. Once awake, they assessed the situation and decide the bedroom window was the best exit for them.

My brother’s window was on the same exterior wall from my parent’s on the back side of the house. It was a hot summer, mid-west night in a home with no air conditioning. Installed in my brother’s open window was a large window fan, which blocked nearly all of the space of the opening.

My parents positioned themselves just outside his window and began to yell at him to get up. He was groggy and not thinking clearly; already feeling the effects of the smoke. He heard Mom and Dad calling him and went to the bedroom door, thinking their voices were coming from the living room. The doorknob was so hot, it burned his fingers and palm as he attempted to open the door. My dad kicked in the window fan and went in and pulled him out.

Once they were out, they went to the front of the house. Dad tried to save Darryl by entering through the front door. He got hold of the play pen but was unsuccessful in getting him out. The heat and flames forced him back out the door.

Firemen arrived on scene. They tried to rescue the baby, as well. However, the ceiling collapsed on the man who was making the attempt. He was taken to the hospital to be treated for his injuries.

As the firemen made their attempts, my mom watched from a our neighbor’s side porch where she had been taken for safety. The horror of it was too much for her. Precious Darryl, was unable to be rescued. She went into shock – literally. She was taken to the hospital for treatment. I can’t imagine how she felt knowing she would have to tell her brother and sister-in-law their sweet little boy had died while in her care.

The cause of the fire was faulty aluminum wiring, which was common in older homes in the ‘70s. Fire fighters tried to comfort my parents by stating that it was most likely Darryl died of smoke inhalation before the fire could reach him. They added that it was good that my sister and I weren’t there. Otherwise, our fates would have been the same.

So, where were we?

I had been staying with my grandparents for a couple weeks, just as I did every summer when I was young. The day of the fire, I was feeling sick and wanted to go home. However, my efforts to be home that night failed. When calling to see if my parents would come get me, my brother told me Mom and Dad weren’t there and would be home too late to make the two-hour round trip to get me. This meant I would have to wait until the morning.

So, how did my sister end up not being home that night? She was working at Six Flags Over Mid-America. Some of her friends had invited her to a party after work, but she didn’t want to go. Like me, she was feeling sick that night and just wanted to go home. The closer she got to her exit, the more she felt a nagging sensation that she shouldn’t go home, but to the party instead. She told herself she would go for just a little while.

This event in the lives of my family helps me see how God’s ways are above ours. We, sometimes, make plans for how things should go, but God in His wisdom, saves us from what we cannot see. If the night would have turned out as my sister and I intended, there would have three lives lost.

While I don’t understand why God chose to protect us and take Darryl, I have come to know that His plan is perfect for accomplishing His purposes. There is always a reason for the things he does, even though we are not always privy to such knowledge. That’s when we have to trust – fully. It is times like this when we must remind ourselves of who God is – of His character. We have to KNOW with everything in us that he is good and loving. Always.

Song Share: Even If, by Mercy Me

I’ve used this song share before, but it just fits so well. I hope you love it as much as I do!